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Introduction: Why Curriculum Studies?

Teachers in England are often said to be much more 'free' than teachers in other parts of the world, particularly in their freedom to decide what to teach. There is no centrally imposed curriculum for schools. Clearly this kind of freedom carries with it great responsibilities: if teachers do their own curriculum planning, perhaps the public has a right, to know how they make their decisions? But another interesting characteristic of teachers in England is that they appear to dislike 'theory' — they often claim to be down-to-earth classroom practitioners rather than theorists. There may be all kinds of explanations for this lack of theory (at least one writer has suggested that it is because most educational theory is bad theory!), but at times of crisis — financial or

ideological — teachers are likely to be asked to justify what they do in the classroom and it is difficult to see how this can be done without taking up a position involving some kind of educational theory. Everything that a teacher does in a classroom involves values, sets of assumptions, views about the nature of children and of knowledge - all of which are the basis of educational theory. It might be suggested that the average teacher's 'theory' is half-baked or naive, or oversimplified, or self-contradictory, but some kind of theory there must be. One purpose of this book is to help practising teachers to clarify their own theory and practice; it is not to impose on you the contributors' view of what education should be.